Webster's dictionary defines spirit as: "the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person." It is the wisdom within each of us, beyond years and experience. Its origins are mysterious, and many believe that our spirit lives on beyond our body in a non-physical plane.
For some, spirit is indelibly linked with the Divine. Saint Teresa called spirit "the life of God within us." It is thought that our spirit resides in the center of our bodies near our hearts. Sometimes we refer to it as our heart, receiving messages from there that have the power to awaken our aliveness – "in my heart I know . . . "
"Spirit" comes from the Latin word spiritus, meaning breath. HW Longfellow called it "A vital breath of more ethereal air." It may be that our spirit is the life force that generates vitality in our bodies: esprit de corps – the spirit of the body, the breath of life.
In the ancient roots of the English language, there is an understanding of spirit that in our culture often gets overlooked. At a stressful pace, we live each day running down tasks. Most of our focus and energy has literally gone to our heads. We tend to give more value to information that comes from our brains, finding their great powers of analysis and judgment. But this is also where fear and anxiety are born, emotions that keep us dispirited – small and weak.
With even a cursory look, spirit can be found in all living beings. It is a great power center just waiting to give direction and meaning to our lives. Whether we believe it to be a connection with God, the source of all life, or each person's innate wisdom, spirit is a resource that we can draw upon.
What Spiritual Coaching is Like
Spiritual coaching taps into the power center both within the client and within the coach. Giving credence to this immaterial intelligence, coaches can aid clients in hearing the messages in their heart, supporting them to take action and effect changes from that place of inner strength.
We all have an inner guidance system that knows what's best for us and can support us to be on purpose in our lives. Just listen for that voice and understand that it has merit equal to and complementary to cognitive thoughts.
With attention to this realm while listening closely to their client, a coach can access valuable information in the form of intuitive connections, inklings, visualizations, and thoughts that may seem to "come from left field." Then, without attachment to outcome, the coach can offer this information as a catalyst to support the client in shifting and then taking action.
It all begins with the client's clearly stated agenda. Once coach and client are on the same page – knowing what the client wants to take away from the session – the spirits of both coach and client can be engaged, opening to intuitive information as the session progresses.
As with all coaching, the coach's questions and statements may be rejected or accepted by the client. It's important that the coach listen for how the information lands with the client to know whether to pursue any particular insight or line of inquiry. Just a simple question – "Is this a good place to explore for now?" – will help the coach be certain of what direction to follow.
How Spiritual Coaching is Different
All coaches have a style – an authentic way of coaching based on their skills. A coach, who pays attention to their own spirit and looks for the spirit in others, will likely coach with a spiritual style. Whether the client is an executive trying to improve their profit margins or a parent talking about challenges with their teenager, any client with any agenda can be coached with a spiritual style.
Some styles of coaching keep the focus of attention on strategic or more pragmatic information and process. It's best if a coach has the ability to use all sorts of tools in coaching sessions. Reasoning, intuition and strategy all have a place in masterful coaching. A spiritual coach will likely coach with intuition as their default mode.
What you Need to Know to be a Spiritual Coach
The coach need not know more than their client about spirituality to be a spiritual coach. A spiritual coach is not a guru. Nor are they necessarily spiritual teachers or guides. What's important is that the coach has an active spiritual life and is learning to surrender to spirit, allowing it to guide their thoughts, decisions and actions.
A spiritual approach to coaching will also call for the coach to:
- Continually build their integrity
- Have developed their intuition
- Know the difference between intuitive information and judgment or opinion
- Have good boundaries
- Stay detached to outcome in coaching sessions
Religious and spiritual beliefs are very personal. It would be unethical for a coach to preach to or try to convert a client to specific religious or spiritual beliefs. Instead, the coach works with the client's own beliefs, encouraging them to expand their understanding and apply those tenets as guidelines for their own decision-making and actions.
Some clients are not comfortable with a spiritual approach to coaching. The sample session offers a natural opportunity to let the client know that you coach with a spiritual style. If the client agrees that this approach is interesting and useful, then the coach and client can proceed. Otherwise, it may be best to refer the client to a coach with a more appropriate style.
Some coaches shy away from letting prospective clients know that they are spiritually based, but it can be marketed with subtle language and images. As with all forms of coaching, the key is to be your self and operate from integrity. This way you attract the clients that resonate with your authentic style of coaching.